Totalitarianism In The Handmaids

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As most systems of oppression and totalitarianism work, the majority of the population suffer below, while the privileged few are allowed to rise to the top. While the handmaids, Marthas, and assistants like Nick, work for the higher ups and fear stepping out of line, Commanders and their wives are allowed special advantages and generally have more freedoms. The laws they have put in place to control the population seem to not apply to the Commanders; these individuals own banned objects, such as books, makeup, scandalous clothing, run strip clubs like Jezebel’s, and bend the rules where they see fit. The general disregard for their own commands is seen when Offred’s Commander brings her to the night club, upon which she questions him:…show more content…
After being captured to become handmaids, the women are relocated to the Red Centre, where they are supervised by the Aunts. These so-called “protectors” shame the women for their past lives and show disdain for anyone who dared to prevent a birth. “ How could they, said Aunt Lydia, oh how could they have done such a thing? Jezebels! Scorning God’s gifts! Wringing her hands” (129), the Aunts, under the government’s decree, allow their religious tendencies and own personal beliefs to overshadow the women’s right to choose. Earlier in the novel, during a ritual called “Testifying”, the women are publicly humiliated by being compelled to share private and traumatic experiences. One handmaid, Janine, steps forward and shares her ordeal of being gang raped at 14 and then having an abortion, to which she is met by…show more content…
Everyday, anti-abortion protesters heckle at and demean women who are simply seeking to exercise their reproductive rights. Additionally, abortion clinics are closing down due to politicians and their voters enacting laws and stopping funding; for example, the amount of abortion clinics in the state of Kentucky is 1, down from 17 in 1978. Across the countries more arbitrary rules are being enforced on women to intimidate them and prevent them going through with the procedure, such as restricting insurance payout for such operations, having waiting periods, imposing a strict time frame in which a woman can get an abortion, and even forcing the patient to undergo an ultrasound to see the foetus’ shape and hear the embryo’s heartbeat. Like the women of the Gilead, American women seeking abortions have their freedoms revoked by people who do not share there same beliefs, often using religion and personal morals to defend their stance. In America especially, women have to cross a vast amount of barriers in order to receive an abortion, regardless of whether it is elective or medically necessary. These controlling and oppressive laws echo the world of the handmaids, who are given no autonomy or freedom over their own
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